Meet Tamyka Miles, our new Assistant Director
As far back as she can remember, Tamyka Miles wanted to be a librarian.
“From the time that I could say what I wanted to be, it was always ‘I am going to be a librarian,’” Miles recalled. “It’s the only thing I ever wanted to be. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.”
Following a winding path, Miles achieved that goal eight years ago and began her ascent up the library ladder. In November, Miles embarked on a new journey when she was appointed the assistant director of the New Orleans Public Library.
With a wide array of Library experience –– in programming, collection, reference, library management, and administration –– Miles brings years of knowledge, passion, and insight to the Library.
Emily Painton, NOPL executive director and city librarian, said she “couldn’t be happier,” to have Miles on the team. The Library has been without an assistant director for almost three years, and Painton said she feels “lucky to have [Miles] filling this vital role.
“Along with her years of working in a variety of urban library settings, Tamyka carries a background of complex management and experience working in fields that require patience and empathy,” Painton said. “I am confident she will help us build a better library for all New Orleanians.”
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Miles holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and a masters in library and information science. Her love for libraries runs so deep, she still owns her the first ever library card she ever had, and vividly remembers the experience of getting it.
“I was very small, very young, but I wanted to get a library card. I was crushed when the librarian said I couldn’t have one because I wasn’t old enough. But my dad told her, ‘If she can write her name on the back of this card, she can get a library card,’” Miles said. “And it worked –– I wrote my name on the card and they let me open my own account.”
To this day, Miles said she looks at the card “all the time,” to remind her of her journey and inspire her to keep going.
Prior to stepping into her new role, Miles was a branch manager for the D.C. Public Library in Washington, and before that she worked as an administrator and information services librarian at the Multnomah County Public Library. Though her favorite part of being a librarian is helping connect people to information, Miles said real perk of her job is being inside a library every day.
“Libraries have always felt like a home away from home to me, wherever I am,” she explained. “It always feels very natural when I walk into any library, anywhere.”
Working in libraries for almost a decade, Miles has been involved in numerous committees and task forces and said she loves being where the decisions are made.
“African Americans make up less than 6% of the library workforce, total, and even less in high-level administration positions. I am very passionate about advocating for more people of color to be a part of this profession, and for our libraries to better serve underrepresented communities,” she said. “If you don’t have diverse group of people and backgrounds sitting at the table, can you really be sure you’re providing equitable services?”
Miles said she’s thrilled to be at the New Orleans Public Library’s table and is excited to be a voice for the community and their needs.
“It’s so wonderful to be in places, like New Orleans, that are supportive of their library system,” she said.
As the Library’s first assistant director since 2019, Miles said her top priority is to fight for the changes the community wants, not the things that she wants.
“In order to be a good steward, you have to listen. We have to listen to what they are asking for, and I don’t just mean buying a book or movie. I mean we need to ask what type of environment they want to be in, and what time of programming they want to attend, and what other services they need,” she said.
Above all else, Miles said she is excited to work with the people of New Orleans, to get to know this community, and to advocate for their needs.
“I think sometimes people forget, literally, that this is their Library. It belongs to them,” she said. “We’re here to listen to the community, and we are trying to reflect the things that they want and need. Sometimes that’s hard, because it can be a guessing game, but it doesn’t need to be.”
Miles said her door is always open and she’s looking forward to getting feedback and suggestions –– and restaurant recommendations.
“I’m excited about everything here, but I love good food, and I am so happy to be living in a food city again,” Miles said. “I know there’s lots of things that I don’t know about this city and this community, but my door is always open. I am always willing to listen and participate and I’m just very excited about the work that I’ve been asked and trusted to do, and I want to hit the ground running.”